Although flowers were grown in Assyrian gardens, as certain Nineveh reliefs reveal, they were mainly planted with trees. Rather than palm groves, however, the parks were planted with rows of fruit trees and conifers, as shown in the reliefs in Room VII and on some coloured brick decorations.

Royal interest

Sargon’s correspondence shows that the king took a close interest in the planting of his gardens and wrote personally to governors demanding they uproot saplings and take plant cuttings from different provinces and send them to Khorsabad.

"As for the saplings about which the king, my lord, has written to me, there is much snow and ice, so they cannot be uprooted yet; they will be dug out and brought to Dur-Sharrukin (...)."

(SAA 5105) /p>

Favourite species

Eight letters list the saplings that were sent to Khorsabad. They contain information on their number (hundreds or even thousands), and offer a glimpse of how vast the park would have been. They also give us an idea of the sort of species selected: cedar and cypress, apple, medlar, plum and almond trees, quince and pomegranate were particular favourites. Vines are also occasionally mentioned, and on the Nineveh banquet relief they are depicted as a climbing vine. These species, some exotic, helped recreate the Assyrian empire in the gardens.

"They are gathering saplings of almond, quince and plum trees and transporting them to Dur-Sharrukin. The Suhaean and the local people are also bringing saplings from the country of Laqe - 1,000 bundles of apple trees (...)."

(SAA 01 226)